Before Breitbart, before Trump, Bannon bullied people in Biosphere 2

Steve Bannon, head of Breitbart News, was named to the new position of campaign chief executive officer. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

The Breitbart chief and Trump campaign CEO's sexist bullying was evident in the early days of Biosphere 2 in Arizona, then a quasi “space colonization” and environmental research project.

Stephen K. Bannon, who recently took a leave from running Breitbart.com to become Donald Trump’s chief campaign executive, once bullied women in the historic environmental research project known as Biosphere 2.

He called a female science researcher who wrote a report about safety concerns a “deluded” “bimbo,” and threatened to “ram it down her (expletive) throat.” He also threatened to “kick her ass.”

Biosphere 2

An item in today's Fort Worth Star-Telegram details how Bannon, then an investment banker with Goldman Sachs, was hired by Texas philanthropist Ed Bass to take over Biosphere 2 when things got weird.

Biosphere 2 today “serves as a unique large-scale experimental apparatus housing seven model ecosystems with active research by teams of multidisciplinary scientists,” according to the University of Arizona project website.

The “Human Terrarium”

Located near the town of Oracle, Arizona, Biosphere began some 20 years ago as a project where eight participants committed to spending two straight years locked up inside what was basically a 3-acre terrarium. Things did not go as planned.

Archival reports from 1993 found in the Star-Telegram archives show that Bannon was hired to take over the project at a point where it losing $12-15 million a year. Bannon was a former Goldman Sachs investment banker who ran a firm based in Los Angeles and New York that specialized in media and entertainment investments.

After two years of voluntary confinement in the Biosphere 2 project in Arizona, the eight member crew of the project stepped back into the Earth's atmosphere 26 September 1993.

Bannon kicked out the original residents of laboratory as 'dysfunctional,' and rebooted the project from, in his words, a “space colonization” test to a University of Arizona science program.

“In the two years Bannon ran Biosphere 2, he also produced and promoted a nuanced documentary on illegal immigration near the Sonora border about 100 miles south,” according to the Star-Telegram report.

The Arizona Daily Star has a related item, with original archival reporting from Biosphere's active days in the 1990s. “ Bannon apparently acted the bully around the enclosed mini-world near Oracle,” the paper reports today. Snip:

On April 1, 1994, financier Ed Bass, after spilling tens of millions more dollars than expected on the project, moved to take it over from the original management team and partner John Allen. Bannon acted, essentially, as the heavy for Bass, Tucson attorney Larry Hecker recalled when I asked him Thursday. Hecker represented the original management and was away watching the UA basketball team in the Final Four when sheriff’s deputies and federal officers arrived at the Pinal County site to serve legal notice of the ouster that day.

Bannon, Hecker said, “was the new sheriff, or dictator.”

Bannon’s actions soon ended up as part of a civil suit filed by some of the original Biospherians against the new guard. In court, he admitted speaking angry words that echo some more recent accusations against him.

Back then, the Tucson Citizen reported, citing court testimony, he vowed to kick the ass of Abigail Alling, one of the original Biospherians, who returned from Japan to warn those still inside about the takeover. When Alling wrote a statement spelling out her concerns about safety in the Biosphere, he threatened to “ram it down her (expletive) throat.”

The court filings say Bannon called Ms. Alling a “self-centered, deluded young woman” and a “bimbo.”

Here's a snip from the original Tuscon Citizen report “Manager vowed revenge on Alling, her lawyer says,” by Eric Stern on May 24, 1996.

A Biosphere 2 investment banker vowed profanely to take revenge on crew member Abigail Alling, after his takeover failed in November 1993, a lawyer said yesterday in the abuse of process trial against Space Biospheres Ventures.

Under questioning by the lawyer, William Walker, the Beverly Hills, Calif., investment banker, Steve Bannon, acknowledged he “vowed to kick (Alling’s) —.’

Bannon said he was hired to stop the $1 million monthly runaway costs of the Biosphere 2 experiment, a $200-million self-contained, closed ecosystem.

Bannon resigned in late 1993 after SBV would not accept his proposal to remove top Biosphere 2 managers.

But then Ed Bass, the wealthy Texan who funded the project, decided to follow through on Bannon’s proposal on April 1, 1994. Bannon returned as acting chief executive officer of the company, replacing Margret Augustine.

This action prompted Alling and another original Biosphere 2 crew member, Mark Van Thillo, to return from a business trip in Japan, break into the system in the middle of the night and warn crew members that new management was incapable of running the project, they have said.

Alling and Van Thillo were technical and safety consultants to Biosphere 2. They were fired a few days after the break-in. In the civil trial, they are suing SBV for breach of contract and abuse of process. The trial on criminal charges in the break-in case is pending.

Bannon called Alling’s and Van Thillo’s actions “mutiny.’

Alling also angered Bannon when she was quoted in a Tucson Citizen article comparing the Biosphere 2 safety situation to management mistakes leading up to the space shuttle Challenger explosion of 1986.

Bannon said that statement was improper.

“I was humiliated,’ he said.

In preparation for a grand jury hearing for the criminal charges, Alling claimed she had written a five-page statement about the safety problems with Biosphere 2 after new management took over.

Bannon, in turn, threatened to “ram it down her ——- throat,’ Bannon told jurors.

This type of animosity tainted Alling’s case, because Bannon aggressively sought criminal prosecution of Alling and Van Thillo, thereby abusing their due process rights, said Walker, Alling’s attorney.

Bannon also said he called Alling a “self-centered, deluded young woman’ and a “bimbo.’

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